Trigger warning: rape

Cairo ranked worst for women’s safety after New Delhi, Karachi, and Kinshasa. The list included 19 major cities with over 10 million people. It was based on “research on sexual violence against women by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in 2017.” Women in Egypt are often subjected to harassment daily. Egypt has long struggled to combat the problem, with several high-profile cases bringing it to the fore.

According to Egyptian lawyer Abdel-Hamid Rahim, a recent law to discourage sexual harassment on the streets stipulates imprisonment for one year and a fine ranging from 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($308) to 10,000 Egyptian pounds, with the possibility of an increased penalty if the harasser is a major culprit or took part in group harassment using a weapon. In such cases, the penalty could include a prison sentence of five years and a fine of 50,000 Egyptian pounds.

Some say the increase in sexual harassment is an outcome of the absence of religion among youth. Dar Al-Iftaa, an Islamic advisory body, described sexual harassment as a crime and a major sin. Yet, many people still blame the victims for the incidents. There are already laws to fight this Epidemic, but they’re not dealt with in a rigid way.

A flashback to what happened

In July 2020, a case of serial sexual harasser (The ABZ case) popped up. This was brought to light through an Instagram account with the name (AssaultPolice). Followed up with a couple of Twitter hashtags #ahmedbassamzaki, #ABZ, #justiceforabzsurvivors. The 22-year-old Egyptian man has been accused of harassing and blackmailing more than 100 women over the course of several years.

Nadeen Ashraf, creator of assaultpolice

“Nadeen Ashraf,” who is on the BBC’s 100 women of 2020 list, is the creator of assault police and helped push the #MeToo movement in Egypt. In November 2020, she also shed light on the Fairmont Nile City gang-rape case with trending hashtags on Twitter, #FairmontCase.

Law in Egypt has failed to bring impartiality to the Fairmont victims. Not only that but one of the defendants, Seif Bedour, 21, who is a friend of a witness, was swept up in a series of backlash arrests related to the rape case. Bedour was with the witness when police arrived at her home to detain her, insisted on accompanying her to the station, where he was detained on charges of drug use and debauchery.

Let’s pause…and think

Egypt has witnessed a lot of changes, including a decrease in sexual harassment in the past few months. But…let’s pause for a minute here and think, did sexual harassment really drop in Egypt? Or did it really drop to a new level of obsequiousness?

What happened on November 26?

On November 26, A woman arrived at one of Qalyubia’s (one of Egypt’s counties) hospitals to receive her chemotherapy to cure her cancer.  She took her young daughter for company, as she was always there with her.

After chemotherapy, the woman took a break to heal her body from the pain she was feeling. Meanwhile, her daughter was looking for a “tok-tok” (a type of transportation) to get them back home safely. After finding their way home, the daughter went back to take her mom as she couldn’t walk, talk, or even breathe.

They rode the tok-tok, and all they wanted was to be sheltered in their home. On the way home, the driver had a very vicious thought in mind. He was thinking about raping the mom and accomplishing the crime. And, of course, he needed a safe, dark, remote place because only such things can be done in such circumstances. So he called a friend of his and agreed to meet somewhere in between.

The driver met his friend and planned the whole situation in no time. Suddenly, the mother in the backseat who just had chemotherapy and her young daughter who was there to comfort her found themselves in a “no way out” situation. In a deserted road, between the beautiful plants and trees, was about to happen a very non-human act.

In less than a minute, one of the accusants pointed a knife at the little girl’s neck and threatened her vulnerable mom to step out so they can rape her.

The mom had two choices. Either to fight, even though she had no power to do so. Or save her daughter and face reality no matter what the consequences were. So, the mother succumbed to the suspect’s demands and rescued her daughter. Tired, exhausted, fatigued, and in the absence of ethics, she was brutally raped.

The two suspects fled after raping the woman and left her little daughter in horror. As soon as they ran away, the little daughter cried for help and asked for help from any stranger on the street. The mother dialed the police and filed a case against the rapists. Later on, she was able to identify both of them, and they were caught.

The public prosecution opened an investigation with both suspects and ordered for them to be imprisoned, and the order was renewed today with 45 more days for them to rot in jail until the investigation is complete. I can’t imagine what the woman went through and how her little daughter will be able to recover from the incident. One day, justice will be brought for her and all other women with the same hidden stories. Spread her story so everyone could witness the misery of being a woman living in Egyptian streets.

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